Backyard Sheds

GOOD NEWS!: Kids — and their animals — strut their stuff


By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Teagan McCarthy, 7, and Maverick Story, 9, with their cows. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

CAIRO — From ducks to alpacas to thousand-pound cows, kids from around the area showed off their agricultural know-how at the annual Greene County Youth Fair last weekend.

The fair, held at Angelo Canna Town Park in Cairo, drew families from all over the region to exhibit, explore and learn all about animal husbandry and other agricultural skills. Others performed and strutted their artistic talents.

Robert Pautz, 13, of Coxsackie, exhibited three pigs he borrowed from the Johnk Family Farm in Greenville, but he has his own back home that he keeps as pets.

“He started showing pigs when he was 6,” his mother, Karen Pautz, said. “Pigs are his favorite animal — he just loves them. These he borrows from a farm, but he has two of his own that are just pets for him.”

Robert said pigs are misunderstood animals that are, contrary to popular belief, very clean. And the laying in mud? There’s a reason for that, he explained.

“Pigs don’t sweat so they have no way to excrete, they have no way to cool themselves down, like humans do, so they lay in mud because mud has water in it to cool down,” Robert explained. “Pigs have been my favorite animals ever since I was little.”

One of the pigs on exhibit at this weekend’s Greene County Youth Fair. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Teagan McCarthy, 7, and Maverick Story, 9, from Story Farm in Catskill, were also showing big animals — several black and white cows. They have been showing animals at the annual youth fair since they were 6 years old.

“I help take care of the cows,” Maverick said. “I feed them, brush and wash them, I milk them. My uncles and my aunts taught me how. My favorite thing is feeding them.

Mom Amanda McCarthy said she began showing animals when she was a kid and now, it’s become a family tradition.

On the other end of the spectrum was Abigail Robbins, 17, of Hannacroix, who was exhibiting small colorful chickens, or, specifically, the Belgian d’uccle breed that can easily be held in one hand.

“My aunt has had chickens for a very long time, since I was about 5 or 6, so I have always been around them,” Robbins said. “Recently, I moved in with her, so I have been taking care of them a lot more for the past few years.”

Abigail Robbins, 17, shows off one of her Belgian d’uccle chickens. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

The chickens lay around three to five eggs a week, but they are about half the size of a regular egg you would see in the supermarket. The female Belgian d’uccle, with colorful orange and brown feathers that even grow around her feet, is named Francis Fancy Fly and Feather Feet, while the male rooster is named Andrew.

“Andrew is just as friendly,” she said. “He does not bite at all. He’s very sweet. People think roosters are aggressive, but he’s not.”

 For visitors, the youth fair is a chance to get out and learn about animals, and even pet a few of them. Ella Marks, 3, of Catskill, loved petting the animals.

“She has loved all the animals, especially the rabbits,” mom Allissan Marks said.

But Ella knew you have to take care when approaching the animals.

“They are soft and fluffy, but some of the farm animals pinch if you touch them,” Ella said.

For some local organizations, the youth fair is a good way to get out and meet with the public, and perhaps raise some money for their group and its programs. A contingent was on hand from American Legion Mohican Post 983 for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“We have hot dogs, cold drinks, we have a raffle for a carved bear, and we have a gun raffle for $20 each,” said Mike Adrian, commander of the American Legion. “We are raising money for the Legion. We are getting ready to blacktop our driveway so we are saving up money — we have half of the money and are trying to raise some more.”

Veterans from American Legion Mohican Post 983 selling food and refreshments for the Post. Pictured, left to right, are Bob Patterson, third vice commander; Commander Mike Adrian; and Ray Houghtaling, first vice commander. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

In addition to animal competitions and exhibits, the youth fair had tractor pulls, musical performances, Irish step dancing, K9 demonstrations, pony rides, crafts exhibitions and more.

The first fair was held in 1954.

Here are more images from this weekend’s Greene County Youth Fair:

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